Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Facts All Come with Points of View

As you may know if you've been reading your Edhat, the News-Press actually got some good news on the labor front the other day, as the Teamsters withdrew 3 pending unfair labor practice charges and the National Labor Relations Board dropped a fourth (although the Teamsters plan to appeal that dismissal). Dear Dr. (not of Physiology) Agnes Huff cranked out her PR machine to claim employer victory, as usual forgetting that no one likes a Goliath that taunts, too.

But, also as usual, it's worth looking at this News-Press "victory" a bit more. First, the claim the NLRB dropped was about the paper unlawfully spying on employees--according to Craig Smith it was Wendy McCaw herself out taking photos of employees' cars that had Banish the Bias signs and/or bumperstickers. The kicker is a former employee of the N-P confided to me that she was followed, yes, followed, by one of the News-Press' security folks as she spent one morning shopping, to check and see if she was handing out anti-N-P literature at the Farmers' Market. Instead, she had to stare the guy down as he followed her into Gelson's. So maybe the NLRB has some re-thinking to do, but that's little surprise given, as the LA Times claims, "the National Labor Relations Board, the country's chief arbiter of labor disputes — remains solidly in anti-worker hands."

Huff then also insists on twisting the press release knife at the end of her gloating, writing the following:

Missing from the debate thus far has been an examination of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters history, said Sarah Longwell, director of communications for the non-profit Center for Union Facts in Washington D.C. Four of the last eight presidents have been indicted. It has long been a poster child for corruption.

I guess Huff can be excused, as she's not a journalist and doesn't know you always have to consider your sources before using them. The Center for Union Facts is, according to SourceWatch, "one of several front groups created by Berman & Co., a Washington, DC public affairs firm owned by Rick Berman, who lobbies for the restaurant, hotel, alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries." That is, he's created a non-profit group to issue "research" that he can then go and claim as fact to support his arguments that not just a living wage but a minimum wage is bad for America (gee, do Berman and McCaw sound like two peas in a screw-the-poor pod?) and to argue that obesity is not a public health issue and that secondhand smoke is not at all dangerous.

As The Nation writes, "CUF urges readers to decertify their unions. But if CUF were really a campaign for democracy, justice and the interests of workers, unionfacts.com would instead encourage people to fight for better unions, by getting more involved in their own, ousting bad leaders by running against them in elections, and joining Teamsters for a Democratic Union, Members for Democracy or any number of other reform-minded groups within the labor movement."

Instead, the Center for Union Facts does the bidding of big business, and we all know, by now, exactly where McCaw & Co. fall in that argument. It's her paper, and she'll deny reality if she wants to. I'm just waiting for the News-Press Study Group to form.


Anonymous Alex said...

Well researched! I have to agree with you!

7:51 PM  

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